“[I]t comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” — Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, 2004.

That quote from the Apple CEO came to mind over the weekend as I was reading Google’s blog post explaining its decision to exit two ambitious projects — its Google Health and PowerMeter initiatives. Companies are defined not only by what they do, but by what they decide not to do, and in that way the search giant is showing a new level of maturity in scaling back its ambitions.

It’s also a matter of being pragmatic. Google conceded in the post that neither of the projects caught on as much as it hoped.

Both were based on the idea that with more and better information, people can make smarter choices, whether in regard to managing personal health and wellness, or saving money and conserving energy at home. While they didn’t scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it’s traditionally been difficult.

It took Microsoft a long time to learn this lesson. Apart from one-off duds like Microsoft Bob, it was only after the recent recession that the company started cutting back on its product line in a big way, with casualties including MSN Money and Encarta.

Ironically, though, Google’s decision to axe Google Health could end up benefiting the Redmond company, whose HealthVault service has been a competitor. Existing users of Google Health will be able to export their data to the Microsoft service.

Microsoft’s Hohm, which had been a competitor to Google PowerMeter, might not be positioned to benefit as much from Google’s decision to axe its project. Microsoft has been shifting Hohm away from residential energy monitoring to focus more on information and power management services for electric cars.

And with both tech giants looking elsewhere, the home energy management space suddenly seems like fertile ground once again for current and future startups.

Comments

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Google in being more Appley when it comes to innovation. I’ve found that iPhone is much more mature and innovative than is my associate’s G2-phone, even though the latter is in its second generation.

  • Guest

    Not clear to me that MS has learned the lesson yet. You’re right that nothing happened at all until after the recession, which is pretty amazing given that their stock had been in the toilet for nearly a decade already by that point. But there still seems to be a lot of non core projects and duplicatons within core areas.

  • Guest

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but does MS make any profit from either HealthVault or Holm? Maybe they should also be questioning why they’re still in both.

  • Jcmeyer23

    Google doesn’t know what they’re going to miss out on in this energy market. Check out IntwineEnergy.com–these guys know what they are doing. I’ve been using their app and power monitor for a couple years now and it’s great!

  • guest

    It took Microsoft a long time to learn this lesson. Apart from one-off duds like Microsoft Bob, it was only after the recent recession that the company started cutting back on its product line in a big way, with casualties including MSN Money and Encarta.

    Recent recession?  They killed Money and Encarta ages ago, more recent kills would be KIN

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Özmen-Geri-Dönüşüm/100002274799008 Özmen Geri Dönüşüm

    Very nice  Block may very beautiful. Information is very helpful, thank you

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